Say Hello to my leetle favorite sanding accessories for carving!

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Blog entry by mpounders posted 09-26-2011 11:02 PM 9387 reads 7 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I wanted to do a blog entry that talked a little about sanding, since some carvers may not be familiar with all of these accessories.It may also be useful info for other woodworkers who do some shaping on boxes and such. Some carvers prefer not to sand, leaving a more rustic hand-carved look. Certain styles of carving do stress clean cuts and I also prefer to cut as much as possible before starting to sand. But one of the things that I feel has improved my carvings or at least their appearance, was using different methods to give my carvings a more finished professional look. That can include various finishes and bases that help a carving be perceived as art, but one of the major improvements I feel I have made was in sanding. I have almost as many gadgets for sanding as I do for carving! One of the main reasons I first bought a flex-shaft rotary tool was so that I could use sanding accessories at a slower speed than my old Dremel single-speed. I started with a HF model and added a Foredom hand-piece that would let me use accessories with a 1/4” shaft.

One of my favorite tools is this small cushioned drum sander. I can can cut what ever grit of cloth backed sandpaper I want and the cushioning is great for sanding contours without marks. It has made a tremendous difference in my carvings.

I also love my 3M Sotchbrite bristle discs. I stack 3 or more on a little mandrel and use them to remove fuzz in crevices in addition to doing some gentle shaping. I like to carve shallow wrinkles on faces and use these discs to soften them up and make them look real. I use them the same way on fur, hair, and beards. Amazing effects and available in different grits.

I use my Dremel type drum sanders some, but a trick I learned was to not put the sleeve all the way on or to use sleeves that are too long for the drum you have. The part that overhangs then has some flex to it that works great in sanding different contours, but still has the hardness for rough shaping.

I use some inexpensive HF cone sanders for rough shaping and removing coarse marks. They are sooo cheap and work well! They are the largest I have and use a 1/4” screw mandrel. I find myself using the cone more than the cylinder.

The Marsh cone sander lets you use different grits of sanding material. I like what is referred to as “Swiss” sanding paper in carving circles, but it sure looks like Klingspor Gold to me! The cone sanders let you easily sand corners and crevices and Wanda Marsh uses this one to shape flower petals on the realistic flowers she carves. The smaller point lets you get into areas around eyes and noses, and the wider areas can smooth flats and valleys.

The gugasanders were created by Bob and Josh Guge who carve super-realistic wildlife. They have very fine points and I use them for sanding eyeballs and other tiny areas. They are the fineist of the fine and I generally use the 180 grit for shaping and smoothing. The smallest have the screw mandrels and the larger have the split mandrel. I just started using these and I really like them a bunch. They are a little more expensive than the Marsh sander to use, but they do a job that none of the others can. Nice!

You can also use the split mandrels to roll your own cone sander by inserting the paper in the split and wrapping it in a spiral around in the proper direction and securing with masking tape at the bottom.

And last of all is the Sand-o-Flex sander! I have this mounted to a motor on my bench and filled with 320 grit paper. It does a great job of final smoothing for most of my carvings. You have to be careful and support delicate areas with your fingers to prevent them from being broken, but it does a nice job for most areas.

I also use a home-built disc sander on my lathe for sanding edges on my bases and flats on carvings that have pieces to be joined. My little 1” belt sander is used for some sharpening duties but not much else!

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

10 comments so far

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2794 posts in 3460 days

#1 posted 09-27-2011 01:23 AM

I have recently just purchased a Wecheer rotary tool along with the chisel head. I’ve fired it up but not put it to much use yet. I do a lot of painting and the idea of wood carving appeals to me. I’m not adverse to using power to do it. Thanks for the post. I garnered some ‘first hand’ practical info.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View RBWoodworker's profile


441 posts in 3374 days

#2 posted 09-27-2011 01:25 AM

Great info here.. I had no idea stuff this fine was available..thanks for sharing.. do you have a source of where it can be purchased?

-- Randall Child

View Rustic's profile


3253 posts in 3619 days

#3 posted 09-27-2011 01:42 AM

gotta get me some of these sanders

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View Wes Grimes's profile

Wes Grimes

38 posts in 2466 days

#4 posted 09-27-2011 03:11 AM

Thanks for the info. I am new to woodworking and fine detail sanding has been difficult for me. I ended up using tiny hand files.

-- Wes, Garland, TX

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3165 posts in 3132 days

#5 posted 09-27-2011 03:17 AM

This is also quite useful to those of us who do copper work. Those sanding cones will be mighty useful to me, Vs a file!

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View mpounders's profile


875 posts in 2918 days

#6 posted 09-27-2011 05:39 AM

I figured they might be handy for other things! Be aware that they are usually rated for less than 3500 rpms and that you will find that a bent shaft at high speed provides more excitement and damage than most people care for. You can find the Harbor Freight flex shaft here and the cone sanders . Most of the other sanders come from Old Texas Wood Carvers, but you can find them elsewhere. They charge $6.50 for shipping, but pretty much everything on the page will easily fit in the box, so it’s cheaper if you order several items on the order.

You can find the Sand-o-Flex and 320 grit paper here. Woocraft also sells it, but doesn’t seem to have the 320 grit strips. Woodcraft and others do carry the Foredom flexshaft handpieces that will let you use the 1/4” shaft mandrels and burrs, used for heavier roughing out. The handpieces fit the Harbor Freight, MasterCarver, and Wecheer flex shaft tools that use the standard universal coupling (but not Dremel flex shafts).

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

View jerrells's profile


918 posts in 2907 days

#7 posted 09-28-2011 02:33 AM

Thanks Mike – I am a scrollsaw’er and always looking for some new tool to help. These will do the trick.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View Spoontaneous's profile


1334 posts in 3353 days

#8 posted 09-29-2011 03:21 AM

Dang Mike. You think it’d be alright if I borrowed some tools from you? <grin> I did not know about half of these. I have the Foredom (been running for 15-20 years)... but those little tiny bristle discs look to be of great use.I want some. A lot of my stuff is roundish and I have a hard time on the inside radius…. where my file won’t go. I’ve seen the ‘cones’ on Ebay but never tried them. I did get some 1” scotch pads but the adapter fits a Dremel and so I have to figure out a way to fit to the Foredom.

The bad thing about being ‘self-learning’ is that you go for years and not know about an easier way. I need one of those drum sanders too. In fact, as I was carving some wild grapevine today I was wishing for one. Thanks for the post!

-- I just got done cutting three boards and all four of them were too short. (true story)

View Spoontaneous's profile


1334 posts in 3353 days

#9 posted 09-29-2011 03:21 AM

<edit> It posted twice.

-- I just got done cutting three boards and all four of them were too short. (true story)

View Randolph Torres's profile

Randolph Torres

295 posts in 3551 days

#10 posted 11-08-2011 09:07 PM

Thanks much for your tips on bristle disks

-- another tip from cooperedpatterns

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